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Why I Won't Be Joining New MICTA

I feel really guilty about this, but I won’t be supporting the New MICTA.

In early 2010 I founded the Manx ICT Association (MICTA) by bringing together the principals / directors of about 14 significant Isle of Man ICT firms, into a room, and agreeing to form an association and defining with them what that association would be. MICTA was born, a written constitution was agreed and published, and membership grew quite rapidly.

 

MICTA was founded on some basic principles:

  • It had to be accessible - membership should be cheap enough for the impoverished sole trader web developer as well as for larger firms.
  • It had to be about providing ICT as a business, not ICT enabled companies such as e-Gaming, Banking etc. - they have their own trade associations or are covered by the Chamber of Commerce ICT Committee, nor individual ICT practitioners because they are catered for by organisations such as BCS The Chartered Institute for IT.
  • It had to be about representing the ICT industry and members to help the ICT sector grow.

WIth very little money and no staff MICTA did something remarkable - it changed the Isle of Man Government’s perception of ICT as a contributor to the economy and caused the Minister for Economic Development to appoint a specific political delegation for the development of the ICT sector. 

In mid 2012 I had to step down from my unpaid role leading MICTA for personal reasons - my wife had sustained a very serious injury and required my full-time care for half a year or more. The leader of one of the larger ICT companies stepped forward and agreed to chair MICTA, I remained on the committee as an ordinary member.

The new leader followed up on one of my themes - engaging with Government, and arranged for MICTA to receive very substantial funding from Government - a fantastic achievement but in some respects a burden… he who pays the Piper etc. He then announced that he wanted MICTA to employ a CEO with some of this money. 

The CEO candidates (including me) were duly interviewed by a panel including the leader of MICTA, the leader of the Chamber of Commerce ICT Committee, and the leader of the Government’s e-Business division (the paymaster which provided the money). A selection was made, of a non-member from outside the ICT industry, and the proposed new CEO adopted a remit which bore little resemblance to the aims & objectives of MICTA but seemed quite well aligned with the needs of Government and the MEF. I decided it was time for me to step down from the committee, I had become too uncomfortable with MICTA’s direction, leadership style and lack of member consultation to remain.

Since I had to stand down, and since the appointment of the new CEO - so for over two years - MICTA has paid little attention to its membership. Member meetings / events have been few and largely at my prompting, and the old MICTA became moribund. Even during the first six months of the new CEO’s appointment there was no substantive attempt to engage with / re-engage members, which I would have thought crucial for anyone running a member organisation, but now I , and presumably other past members, have finally received a mailshot inviting me to join the New MICTA. 

The new MICTA wants me to pay over six times what the original MICTA demanded for my membership, inflated from £25 p.a. to £160 p.a. - this is not the ‘accessibility’ or ‘inclusiveness’ of the old MICTA.

The New MICTA solicits personal membership from IT Professionals outside the ICT industry as associates and promises to represent them - at a glance it appears to be in direct competition with BCS The Chartered Institute for IT in seeking to represent IT Professionals. This troubles me, not least because I strongly support BCS (I am a Chartered Professional Fellow and have been involved at the highest levels of running BCS for several years).

The New MICTA seeks to represent the ICT interests of all businesses, not merely the ICT industry. It is no longer a Trade Association, it seeks membership from all business ICT users, and in doing so puts itself in direct competition with the Chamber of Commerce ICT Committee which has held that remit for many years.

When I founded MICTA there was concern about the boundaries, explicitly that it should not trample on either the remits of the Chamber of Commerce or BCS The Chartered Institute for IT, and I had to give an assurance that it would not in order to unify the founding members. That promise has been broken by the New MICTA, creating the potential for confusion and conflict in the Isle of Man's ICT community instead of the unity, coherence and trade representation that was sought. 

The New MICTA Mission Statement says it is entitled “To perform ICT related projects on a fee for service basis for government, members or industry stakeholders as a means of generating revenue to support the ICT Association’s ongoing independent activities”. So the New MICTA will be in competition with me and other ICT service providers.

The New MICTA strategy document says it will “Encourage the establishment of local bridgeheads to remote programming capabilities - particularly in Eastern Europe”  - so the Isle of Man’s ICT association will be encouraging offshore outsourcing while there are programmers out of work on the island and software companies going broke. Instead of promoting growth in the ICT industry and its economic output the new MICTA appears to be adopting strategy which will lead to the diminution of the ICT industry.  

I won’t be joining the New MICTA, it doesn’t represent the ideals or vision of people like me. It seems intent on pricing itself to exclude ordinary small IT providers - the sole member charge is even higher than the professional membership subscription of BCS The Chartered Institute for IT or comparable prestigious institutions. The leadership does not seem interested in members; it has failed to engage with members for the past two years even whilst employing a paid CEO to do so. It’s not an ICT industry association, it’s explicitly seeking to represent people not in the ICT industry. It claims the right to compete with other IT service providers - possibly even including its members (if it gets any). It even proposes to support the development of offshoring more work away from the Isle of Man. And it has broken the promises made to its founding members.

Sorry, I did my best when I created the original MICTA, and we did a lot of good, but I could not in my wildest nightmares have envisaged this outcome. I apologise unreservedly to those who gave me their faith in helping me create MICTA - and I won’t be joining the New MICTA. I’ve taken the MICTA badge off my website, the New MICTA is not for me.

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